Letter to the Premier Calling for Basic Income Committee



October 7, 2022

Andrew Furey, Premier

PO Box 8700

Confederation Building

St. John’s, NL

A1B 4J6


Dear Premier,

I call upon your Government to immediately strike the all-party committee on guaranteed basic

income as called for in the unanimously supported NDP private members resolution on November

3, 2021 in the House of Assembly:


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House consider truly ending poverty in this

province by urging government to establish an all-party Committee on basic income, with

a mandate to review and make recommendations on: eligibility and minimum income

amounts, interaction with existing income supports, additional poverty reduction

initiatives, cost-benefit analysis, potential models for such a program and a timeline for

implementation;


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House urge the government ensure this Select

Committee has the resources it needs to conduct its work;


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Committee engage federal Members of Parliament

from Newfoundland and Labrador to participate.


On September 29, 2022, at the summit on Basic Income: New Policies for a New World, Minister

Abbott stated that government is very supportive of moving forward on the All-Party Committee

and that it rests with the three party House leaders to get together and put the committee in place.

Minister Abbott further stated that the Liberal Government House Leader is ready to strike the committee. With this in mind, I see no good reason as to why we should not immediately strike

this committee.


The concept of a Guaranteed Liveable Basic Income is not new and is clearly needed and supported by many anti-poverty groups.


Inflation and the rising cost of necessities, clobbered many families. As one single mother

commented, “I’m a single mom working two jobs barely making ends meet. Soon enough, I’ll have

to choose between eating and paying bills. There should be income support for working people

who can’t make ends meet.” Is it acceptable for people to work multiple jobs just to feed their

families? A panhandler I spoke to several weeks ago informed me she receives $190 of income

support every two weeks, including her dietary supplement. That’s $13.57 a day for food and other

daily necessities. This is simply not enough on which to live.


The Gandalf Group surveyed Canadians and Atlantic Canadians on June 28 to 30, 2021 for the

Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security. By the end of the survey, they found that 65 per

cent of Atlantic Canadians versus 44 per cent of Canadians across the rest of the country supported

a guaranteed basic minimum income floor that would provide a safety net for all Canadians.

Support for this is greater amongst females. The support increases with the older demographic so

ages 75 and older, 84 per cent of that population supports a guaranteed basic income; 86 per cent

of those earning $25,000 or less support some form of guaranteed basic income.


Wage earners, those on income support, renters and homeowners with a mortgage would benefit

from some form of a Guaranteed Basic Liveable Income. PROOF: Food Insecurity Policy

Research’s report on Household Food Insecurity in Canada for 2021 notes that, “About one in

seven households reliant on wages, salaries, or self-employment were food-insecure in 2021.” It

also concluded, that, “Households reliant on social assistance (ie provincial welfare and disability

support programs) had the highest prevalence of food insecurity at 63.1%.”


PROOF further concludes that, “Food insecurity is much more prevalent among households who

rent rather than own their dwelling, with 25.9% of renters affected by some degree of food

insecurity.” Equally concerning, “Female lone-parent households had the highest rate of food

insecurity at 38.1%, followed by male lone-parent households at 20.9% and unattached individuals

living alone at 20.3%.”


For Newfoundland and Labrador, PROOF notes the following statistics:

  • 17.9% of households in NL were food-insecure in 2021, amounting to 90,000 people

  • 4.5% of households in the province (10,000 households) experienced severe food insecurity, meaning members missed meals, reduced food intake, or went days without eating due to a lack of money.

  • 7 in 10 households relying on social assistance in NL as their main source of income (68.8%) were food-insecure.

  • Almost half of food-insecure households in NL (45.1%) relied on wages, salaries, or self-employment incomes as their main source of income.

  • 1 in 4 children in NL (26.4%) lived a food-insecure household, amounting to 22,000 children.

According to a 2011 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report the lower a person’s income

the more likely that person is to use a greater share of health care resources.


Both the PROOF report and Health Accord NL recognize the relationship between food insecurity

and poverty and its harm to people’s health and the cost to our healthcare system.


The current social support system is not working. A new approach, “new policies,” are needed

sooner rather than later if we are to address these problems. A Guaranteed Liveable Basic Income

is one such policy.


PROOF concludes, “If the incomes of lower income households are not increased in proportion to”

… the rising cost of food and other basic necessities… “(eg through indexation of wages and

benefits upon which theses households depend), we can expect the prevalence of severe food

insecurity to rise.” According to the PROOF report, Quebec has the lowest prevalence of food

insecurity of any province and is the only province indexing its social assistance program and

income benefits to inflation. Indexing will have to be part of any discussion around a Guaranteed

Basic Liveable Income.


Health Accord NL supports the provision of a basic income “- a predictable, reliable and adequate

income either for all households presently living in poverty or for targeted persons living below the

poverty line (eg. persons with disabilities, single parent families, etc)”. In fact two of its 57 Calls

to Action (6.3 and 7.3) speak to the idea:


6.3: Ensure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have a liveable and predictable basic

income to support their health and well-being, integrated with provincial programming to

improve food security.


7.3: Ensure that the families of children in Newfoundland and Labrador have some form of a liveable and predictable basic income to support their health and well-being, integrated with provincial programming to improve food security and housing security.


This Monday past, at the St. John’s City Council Meeting, Councillors unanimously passed a

motion by Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary “confirming council’s support for the concept of

Guaranteed Livable Income,” and calling upon the province “to establish the all-party committee,

as approved in November, 2021 to thoroughly review the concept of Guaranteed Liveable Basic

Income.” Halifax city council passed an almost identical resolution in June 2022. Prince Edward

Island is now at the threshold of implementing a Basic Income Guarantee.


Our November 2021 private members resolution on the All Party Committee on Guaranteed Basic

Liveable income was the second time we had to bring forward the resolution. Both times they were

passed unanimously by the House of Assembly. The time is now for Government to strike All-

Party Committee and get on with the business of looking after the people of our province.

I await your positive response, and look forward to the establishment of this committee as soon as

possible.


Sincerely,

James Dinn, MHA St. John’s Centre

Leader, NDP


CC: Steve Crocker, Minister Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation

John Abbott, Minister Children, Seniors and Social Development

Barry Petten, MHA Conception Bay South, House Leader, Official Opposition



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